Tales Out Of Homeschool

Much to Tracey’s and my chagrin, Miss6 is essentially in grade one and can’t spell an.

She can recognise it when it’s in a sentence. She can say the word. She just struggles to spell the bloody thing.

Worse – she could spell it at the end of last year. It’s just like she’s forgotten.

For weeks we’ve struck the same problem, where she looks hard at the flashcard being dangled in front of her and then says confidently, “An. Eye. Tea”

“Really?” I’ll say to her. Again and again. “I’d have thought eye-tea still spells it.”

Which, by the way, she can spell when its flashcard comes up. It is eye-tea. No hesitation at all. But suddenly an has her beat. Both the aaaay and the ennnn.

This despite recognising in an instant the words apple, away, about, after and Nanny, number, not, no and Nintendo.

This sounds and feels like a huge fail as a homeschooling parent, but thankfully we’ve also had moments when we’ve been stunned at her successes.

Like on our recent cruise when a Kids Club childcarer was telling her group Australia doesn’t have any volcanoes and our daughter’s hand shot up.

“What about Mount Gambier?” she wanted to know. “It was a volcano and now it’s full of water and called the Blue Lake. There were lots of other volcanoes there too. The aboriginals thought they were campfires in their stories.”

Tracey just happened to be at the door to the Kids Club when these wonderful sentences came out of Miss6’s mouth, and lead to a lot of hugging and high-fiving between myself and Tracey. Not to mention a quick dash to our room for celebratory sex. You know, like all the best teachers do.

“She’s learnt something,” Tracey almost cried.

On the one hand I feel I need to point out this weeping was before we went back to the room, but on the other hand they were happy tears so maybe…

The important thing is, following this incident there’s now an acknowledged reward based strategy which this teacher is keen to take advantage of, so I’ve been walking around with flashcards in my hand all week, and getting Miss6 to write A and a and I and i and say ‘a makes the sound aaaay’ and ‘i makes the sound eye’ every time she finishes a letter.

Three days I’ve been at it fairly solidly.

And finally, tonight, I thought it was time to show Tracey why I showered this afternoon and made sure the mattress in the tent was pumped up.

I called Miss6 over to where her mother was editing photos.

“I’m playing,” Miss6 informed me from our queen bunk up the end of our bus where her and Miss9 were playing with some dolls.

I decided to push on with my agenda.

“Spell an,” I called out to her.

She didn’t even look away from her doll.

“No, thank you,” she said crisply.

Anyone seeing Tracey’s smug face would realise this wasn’t going even vaguely how it played out in my head.

“Oh, come on,” I near as begged my daughter. “Let’s show your Mum how clever you are.” Now I’m involved is the bit I didn’t add. “Spell an for her.”

“Aaaay…” said Miss6, still without giving any physical indication she’d heard me.

I took advantage of the long drawn out letter to throw some sexy shade at my wife. I’d been practicing this look in my mind’s eye for well over an hour. Part isn’t she wonderful and part she worked so hard for this, both acting as a thin veneer to the underlying hardwood of the glance, which was I’ll see you in the teacher’s lounge after class, Mrs Devereaux.

Which was the moment Miss6 got to the all important second letter.

“Tea,” she said.

“Keep up the good work,” Tracey said to me, turning back to her screen with the unmistakable and slightly insulting relieved air of the school librarian when the bell rings at the end of big lunch.

Birdseye view of our current set up, including the much used school gazebos and under-utilised tent. That’s me over on the right hoping I can land this thing without hurting anyone.
Tracey and the three of our little girls we still have with us. Miss14 has flown back to Gympie for a couple of weeks to catch up with friends and family.

Raising a family on little more than laughs

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